| Lakhanawong Xung Thum Pagoda.
Lakhanawong Xung Thum Pagoda is caring for 21 children from different areas of Soc Trang. They are orphaned or abandoned or born into families with economic difficulties.
Monk Tran Huyen, deputy head of the pagoda, said “We looked at the difficult situation of certain children and decided to help them continue their education.”
The children are provided accommodation and exempted from school fees. On weekends they can go home to visit their relatives, if they wish. Danh Sang, a 5th grader at Lai Hoa primary school, has been raised by the pagoda.
"I had to earn money by catching fish to pay my school fees. My family is very poor. I have 4 brothers. My grandparent brought me to the pagoda. The monks buy clothes, textbooks, and notebooks, for me to go to school,” he said.
After school hours, the children play sports and games with each other. 9th grader Tang Chai of Lai Hoa Secondary School, who has lived at the pagoda for nearly a year, said “It’s very fun to stay at the pagoda because I have many friends there. I often confide in the pagoda’s chief monk because I don’t have parents. The monk said he will help me learn the trade I want to follow.”
Local officials have also done much to help these disadvantaged children continue their studies.
"What the monks at Xung Thum pagoda have done is meaningful to the community, especially local ethnic people and disadvantaged children. We’ll seek ways to expand the model,” said Le Van Vui, head of Vinh Chau town’s education sector.
At times the pagoda has as many as 40 children, some from other provinces in the Mekong Delta region.
Monk Tran Huyen said “Talented people and intellectuals are an important resource for society’s development. We want to help these children as much as possible and hope they will become useful members of society.”
Each year the pagoda also organizes classes for students from Soc Trang province and beyond to help them have a better future.